Dance-Punk Veterans !!! Pulled Triple Duty in Dallas on Friday Night

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With Stereolad and Pageantry
Club Dada, Dallas
Friday, December 11, 2015

How do you make punk rock something you can dance to in the clubs? Easy, you run it through your funky disco filter from the 1970s and just let it grow. Sure enough, that’s what !!! (Chk Chk Chk) have managed to do for the greater part of their 19-year career. Defined as dance-punk, indie rock and punk-punk revival, the Brooklyn outfit spins it all upside down and back again, and over the years they've made a fair number of appearances in North Texas.

Friday night’s stop took them straight to Dallas and Club Dada in support of As If, which was released a few months ago through Warp Records. While not the most genre-defining for the label, !!! manage to do something all their own and cultivate a loyal fanbase. Their work ethic is also impressive: The band was triple-booked Friday, playing two sets at Dada and bringing a third DJ set to Beauty Bar afterward, in the wee hours of Saturday.

Aside from the groovy punk outfit, !!! brought forth Stereolad, a Stereolab cover band for which frontman Nic Offer comically channeled singer Laetita Sadier, complete with banter on subjects like the Dallas theme song, which, according to Offer, she wrote a version of with French lyrics. (Such can neither be confirmed or denied). By their 9:45 p.m. start, a curious crowd had begun to pack in around Dada’s indoor stage. Offer heightened the joke by wearing a blue floral dress, accentuating the difference between !!! and Stereolad. 
Classics were played and tears were cried, but you could hardly tell the difference. For all the casual listener knew, this was a space-age punk band gracing the stage. Diehards saw it coming, but before you truly knew it, Stereolad was already gone. But almost no time went by before Offer and co. made the transition to !!!, as it was literally the exact same band but with that added flair that made them the operatic, dancey outfit they're known to be (and minus the dress).

Right off the bat, the band brought out Texas’ own Sonia Moore to sing a number of songs together, including 2013’s “One Girl/ One Boy.” The audience couldn’t get enough, and praise for the typically on-point performance was met with claims like, "We're not worthy." But there was a time in all the grooving when Offer admitted to having been thinking about an Instagram post during one song. It made you question the seriousness of their return to the club circuit after such a long hiatus. As !!! continue to age, their audience will likely only grow larger.
But with attention constantly fluttering back and forth — what's that about three performances in one night? — the struggle to maintain such a high level of energy only made itself more apparent. That pin-balling energy never wavered through the nearly hour-long performance as Offer drifted effortlessly from one end of the Deep Ellum dive to the other. There was even time for a performance of “Happy Birthday” toward the end of the show, which also felt perfectly in keeping with the night. So they said a brief happy birthday, and continued into their funk-oriented ways.

The result for the young birthday girl was “another orbit around the sun.” This, like all the others, could be considered a fun performance. It’s not to say there haven't been better, but for an unusually warm December night, this one might as well have taken the cake thanks in part to the delicate tunes of North Texas’ own Pageantry, who found a moment in their never-ending touring schedule to add yet another flavor to that very same cake.

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